Friday, June 27, 2008

Back To The Studio

This morning I got into the studio.......finally, and started on a new piece. Since the show opened at the beginning of June I haven't spent that much productive time in there. Oh, I've been in there to tidy up a bit and fool around with some paint but as far as work goes....nada. After every show I almost always feel the burnout settling in.

So this new piece is going to be called "Copper Road". First time I can remember a name coming to me before the piece had been completed. Copper Road will be much longer than it will be wide as that is a shape that has always really appealed to me. The top 1/3 will be blue sky.......I'll use cobalt with a lot of white and the trees will be entirely worked in thread. The bottom 2/3 will be much more abstract. I'm planning on integrating a variety of wools (umbers, mahoganys, deep siennas and of course coppers). It will start almost brown/black at the bottom and lighten in colour from there. I think I may throw some silks in too just to add a tiny bit of shimmer.

Here are a few photos of some of my wools and silks

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Wicked and Wild Night in the Village

This has been just a crazy busy week so far. The first full week the girls are finished school and are just "hanging around" the house. Today I drove to town to pick up my sewing machine...."yeah" then came home and drove my youngest daughter's friend home after a sleepover. After that I picked up my oldest daughter from another sleepover and then drove them both into town for a final end of year school party. They have a much richer social life than I. I need to get out more.

Saturday night there was some real excitement brewing the in Village. Around 7:00pm a huge storm blew in with torrential winds and rain. After all was said and done the creek behind my house breached it's banks and flooded two hundred meters on either side. The above photo is of the creek on a normal day. Below you'll find pictures of what it looked like on Saturday night.

Hope everyone is well and thanks so much to all the great artists who took the time to answer my questions regarding oil painting...........yes, Jean I promise to try and have a bit more patience...probably not my strong suit but I'll try.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Much Rambling About Nothing......

Not a whole lot new to report. The girls have had exams all week so I've had to put on my chauffeur's cap. When you have teenagers that thing is glued to your head. It seems every moment one of them "just has to go" somewhere. Since we are "country mice" as opposed to "city mice" driving is just a part of our life experience. Since most of girl's friends live nearby we are always looking for other parents to carpool with and I must say most of the time it does work out that way. With the price of gas and the impact on the environment it has to.

My sewing machine has been sent out for servicing which they tell me will take two weeks so I've been playing around with the oil paints I was given awhile ago. Now I truly don't know much at all about oil painting but because I work mostly in acrylic I do love the buttery strokes that are achievable in oils and the soft edges I'm able to produce. I've been using M. Graham paints which I highly recommend with the walnut oil medium which I like because it's non toxic. I do know the fat over lean rule but other than that I've just been experimenting. So I was fooling around with this little 6"x6" last week and quite liked the way it turned out. Unfortunately when oils dry they kind of dull out and there are some spots that are oilier than others. So I had to find a way in which to bring those colours back and at the same time protect the piece. I went online and read about varnishing but was surprised to find out you have to wait six months or so. What? How do oil painters sell their work if they have to wait six months for the piece to dry. So I went to an expert........I emailed Tracy Helgeson who gave me some good advice regarding varnishing. Thanks Tracy for your time.
Now I'm interested though in how other oil painters deal with this issue. If you have a moment please let me know.

Well, I'm yoga mat beckons and there are dishes waiting to be washed. Have yourself a great weekend.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

New York in July

Next month we are headed to Upstate New York and I am unbelievably excited. I found out this past winter that the amazingly talented Carol Shinn was teaching at Morrisville State College
Since New York is just a hop, skip and a jump from me (ok, maybe not that quick but about 5 hours) I decided to take her class this summer. Studying under Carol Shinn is like meeting with a rock star for me. Her work is about the best you can get for anyone who is working in embroidery. Although we both work in thread, she works in it exclusively which means no paint whatsoever. This will be a major challenge for me as I am used to incorporating both of them into my work. John and the girls are coming along as we've planned on making a vacation out of it. I have heard Upstate N.Y. is similar in many ways to Ontario.....lots of rivers, lakes and green spaces. John is an avid fly fisherman so he should be in his glory........the girls no so much but they are hoping there is shopping near by. I've found a beautiful Inn where we'll be staying and since I'll only be in class during the day it leaves lots of time for exploring the area the rest of the time.

Well must run the laundry is calling. I think all day today I'll be singing the "I Love New York" theme song.........maybe not singing but humming for sure.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Father's Day

So yesterday was Father's Day and the girls did a nice job of appreciating John. They both made unique cards letting him know why he's the "best" dad ever. Things work hard so we can have a great life, your not balding... yet, your a great dancer (definitely a jab at his lack of rhythm). I know he'll keep those cards forever as he's a real pack rat when it comes to saving all the things the girls are given him over the years.
So although I'm not much for the hallmark holidays I did really miss not having my Dad to call yesterday. He passed when I was six months pregnant with my youngest. He was only 53. He worked his entire life with asbestos before anyone knew how toxic it truly was. Every day he would get up and go to work and never complain although he worked outside in the winter and it was damn cold. I remember sitting in class at school hoping he would be able to find a warm spot inside to have his lunch. He talked a lot about what he was going to do when he retired, take up some hobbies, travel somewhere warm, do all the things he hadn't up to now. He was diagnosed with cancer and died within five weeks. I think up until that time I really thought that our time here was unlimited. Death was there but only a concept as far as I was concerned. When he died all of that changed for me. I changed because I realized time is short. Oh, I know everyone says that but do we truly believe it? Being aware that all this is going to end at some point, I feel, helps you to lead a much richer life. My dad put all the things he wanted to do on hold thinking at some point in the future there would be time for them. I learnt many lessons from him as he was a wonderful, loving father who believed in me and a great artist to boot. But what has really stuck with me is how important now is. When someone asks me what I want to be doing when I retire I tell them to ask me "when I retire". At this moment in time I'm doing exactly what I want to be my life to the fullest.
Love you Dad..........

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Visit From The Plumber

I had great intentions yesterday of getting many things done but instead spent two hours with the plumber. Last week my oldest daughter mistakenly (I don't know how you can do this mistakenly but she did) flushed the toilet paper roll down the toilet. You know the plastic cylinder that the toilet paper roll fits over? She said it slipped out of her hand while the toilet was flushing. Huh? I spent days trying to plunge that thing thinking I could save myself some cash and perhaps begin a new career but it finally dawned on me that I was making no headway with the toilet. The plumber arrived yesterday and tried to push the thing through the system with something he called a snake but that didn't work either. For some odd reason, he too, kept calling me Mel.

He finally had to take the toilet off and set it outside on my deck while he used a coat hanger to try and get that dreaded plastic roll out of the toilet. At one point he said he had gotten one half of it but the other was jammed in there and we may need to think about getting a new toilet. I could see the money I had made at the show on Friday night going toward buying a new toilet and it didn't make me feel very happy. He said he would keep working on it. Tick tock, tick tock...$$$$$$$$$

After another ten minutes he finally removed it from the toilet, raised it above his head and said proudly, "Mel, I got it". Surprisingly enough that was the highlight of my day yesterday.

Here's a few new pieces.... work in acrylic paint and thread

Purple Fields

Red Tulip

In The Distance

Monday, June 9, 2008

Oh What A Night

When I arrived at the gallery I was totally unprepared for what a beautiful job Carol and Stuart had done of hanging the work. I kept thinking "wow, there's my name on the wall alongside two artists whose work I have admired for such a long time". Big, big moment for me. The first people to arrive were my friends Anders and Vivian and shortly after that the fiber arts group I lectured to last month, my friend Kim. It is always so very good to see friendly faces. My butterflys were gone after about five minutes and I was having an amazing time.

John showed up with the girls about an hour into the show. He had been away in the city all week so it was the first time I'd seen him in seven days. Everyday I count how very fortunate I am to have a guy who believes in what I do and supports me in every way possible. Ok, as my kids would say, "enough of that sappy stuff".

Alice and Pamela were probably more wonderful than I had even imagined they would be. So generous and interesting to talk to you. I feel like I've made two new friends. Our three styles of work were so varied that the show was even more visually appealing than I had first imagined it would be.
Around 8:15 Karla Crawford walked in with her guitar in hand. She is performing at the gallery next Friday night and stopped by to give us a taste of her music. We all gathered around and while she was singing you could have heard a pin drop. Her voice blew me away. She only sang two songs but I know everyone there including me was hoping she would do a couple more.

Around 10 pm there seemed to be a bit of a party forming at the gallery but I was spent. All the excitement and six hours of talking had worn me out. My hat goes off to the Carriage House Gallery for all of Carol and Stuart's hard work. Words aren't enough to thank you both. Big thanks to Alice and Pamela for making the show such a success by including their gorgeous work. My friends, you know who you wonderfully supportive people. Thanks also to Alison who has just started reading my blog and came to the opening with her husband. It was great meeting you. Thanks to Liz.......everyone should be as fine a supporter of the arts as you are.

By the end of the night I had sold six pieces. I was a happy girl.

I probably won't see the studio at all today. Laundry needs to be done and the floors have to be washed but I'll be washing them with a smile on my face.
Stay tuned. Tomorrow I'm going to post some of my smaller pieces.

Friday, June 6, 2008

A Common Thread Opening Night

Yesterday I spent about five hours at the gallery with Carol and Pamela Allen. Looking at all those blank walls and trying to visualize how the show would hang was daunting to say the least. My stomach is still doing the butterfly thing but I'm also excited.......I think. John has been away all week in Toronto so these past seven days have been a bit overwhelming. All in all things did get done and now I'm ready. I just dropped off three small pieces for matting this morning to my framer Diane (have I said I love my framer.........I do). The small pieces which I posted on this site are doing unbelievably well at the gallery and the show hasn't even opened yet. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that the price point is so good. Makes it perfect for people who have just started collecting art and are looking for something smaller.

The Barn on Rowanwood Lane

Last fall I was picking my daugher up from a sleep over and on my way there came across this barn. It was late in the afternoon and the way the sun was shining it almost looked purple. I stopped the car took the photo and knew I would use it one day. The barn reminds me of the amazing work by my favourite painter Tracy Helgeson and her beautiful barns. I've long admired her work and I do think I'm her biggest fan. Oh no, wasn't that what that psycho Kathy Bates said to James Caan in the movie Misery. Yikes! She's going to think I'm a crazy now. Hopefully she won't read this. Ok, back to the piece as my nerves are causing me to ramble incoherently. The barn, sky and road are painted in acrylic but the trees and grasses are completed in thread.


This piece was another inspired by the beautiful greenspaces around where I live. John and I sometimes go walking through the Simcoe County Forest on a Sunday afternoon. Lots of opportunities for inspiration and photos. These two trees seemed to appear out of no where as we rounded a corner but their proximity to each other was fascinating to me. Another piece in which a snapped a photo and knew I would use it for one of my artworks.

Well, let me just take a moment to thank everyone who reads this blog for your kind comments and email messages regarding tonights opening. Your thoughtfulness is very much appreciated. If any of you are in the Midland area tonight between 4pm and 10pm, please drop into the gallery to say hello. I'd love to see you.

I'll be back on the weekend with lots of updates and photos.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Off To Midland

The show is being hung today so I am heading out to the gallery to check it out. Pamela Allen will also be there so it will give us a chance to talk before tomorrow night.
Yes, I'm still nervous.

I'll post again tomorrow morning with a few new pieces that will be in the show.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Good News

Summer Days

Work in Felted Wools & Thread

Yesterday I heard from Carol Currie at the Carriage House Gallery and she sold two of my pieces on the weekend. Yeah! Sounds like it was just someone who walked in to see the current show and happened in some way or other to see my work. When I did the television interview a few weeks ago they needed some of my artwork for the shoot so I decided to bring it all up and just leave it. I guess in hindsight that was a good decision on my part. Anyway, it is going to feel good going into the show with two pieces sold.........

Paul from the Purple Hills Artist Tour just emailed my artist page which I am quite impressed with. They did a great job. You can see it here

Today is going to be a crazy day in the studio. I am still finishing one piece that must go to the framers tomorrow morning as well as two other small pieces for matting. I have butterflys in my stomach already and the opening isn't until Friday......yikes! Yesterday I attended a baby shower for our friends Andy and Laurie. I spoke with a big group of my friends who are all intending to come out to the opening on Friday night. There is nothing like the feeling of standing in the middle of the gallery and seeing your friends walk through the door. In that moment I truly know the meaning of the word "friends".

Have a great day

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Time To Put My Money Where My Mouth Is

My oldest daughter came home on Wednesday night all fired up about meeting Craig Keilburger and hearing him speak. She said it was one of the most powerful experiences she had ever had. I knew it would be as I've listened to him before and he definitely is a man on a mission. It was fascinating to sit around the table and listen to her excitement as she described what that day was like and what it meant to her. She met him personally afterward and said he was unbelievably kind and just exuded such energy and passion. So after all was said and done I began thinking about what I could do. Yes, I've bought the "Me To We" book, bought their "Be The Change" t shirts to give out as Christmas gifts, talked about the organization but I guess I feel I've talked a good game but when it comes right down to it........time to put my money where my mouth is.

I've made a personal decision to choose one artwork per show (maybe two, we'll see how it goes) and if that piece sells, the money will go to funding an appropriate project through Free The Children. I'm going to contact them tomorrow and get all the ins and outs on how to make this happen. I would like to have a small card beside the piece for my upcoming show at The Carriage House Gallery, which will inform the potential buyer exactly what the money is going to be used for. A tax receipt will be issued to whomever buys the work also. It is a win/win situation for everyone. For me, for the buyer, for Free The Children and ultimately and most importantly for the people whom the money will help.

I'm getting off my soapbox now............thanks for reading
Hope your well,